The slippery slope of censorship: the copyright lobby and child porn

The title of the MAFIAAFire forum post “The Copyright Lobby Absolutely Loves Child Pornography” is intentionally controversial and eye-grabbing, but when you look at the actual content of the post all of a sudden the politics and chess game of censorship as played by the copyright lobby makes all kinds of sense.

From the article, quoting Johan Schlüter, head of the Danish Anti-Piracy Group (Antipiratgruppen) from 2007 May 27:

Politicians do not understand file sharing, but they understand child pornography, and they want to filter that to score points with the public. Once we get them to filter child pornography, we can get them to extend the block to file sharing.

And later in the article (this time, quoting the original poster in the present day):

The reasoning is simple and straightforward. Once you have established that someone who is in a position to censor other people’s communication has a responsibility to do so, the floodgates open and those middlemen can be politically charged with filtering anything that somebody objects to being distributed.

This is a perfect example of the “slippery slope” problem. With apologies to Procter and Gamble, a slightly modified version of the old Pringles slogan applies here: Once they drop (censor something), they can’t stop.

I detest child pornography as much as any other law-abiding citizen. However, a far worse problem than child porn is censorship of otherwise legitimate speech because of suspected copyright infringement. In the past, the NFL has censored obvious fair use of football telecasts (the only example I know of), mainly because YouTube made it so easy and few people bothered to contest the DMCA notices. I can only imagine what it will be like to try to use the net when someone suspects something is child pornography, when it clearly is not, and the request just gets intercepted. This is further complicated by the fact that even “virtual” child pornography has been outlawed.

The ends do not justify the means. We need to stop blatant censorship dead in its tracks now, or we will certainly regret the end result and wish we had acted sooner in a few years. I support in principle the work of the German group Mogis (), which is against the censorship of the Internet.

I concur with one of the conclusions of this post:

The conclusion is as unpleasant as it is inevitable. The copyright industry lobby is actively trying to hide egregious crimes against children, obviously not because they care about the children, but because the resulting censorship mechanism can be a benefit to their business if they manage to broaden the censorship in the next stage. All this in defense of their lucrative monopoly that starves the public of culture.

If you are disgusted after reading this, you’re not alone. I think the copyright lobby has honestly reached a new low. I hope you, my readers, can see through this pathetic ruse; if you can avoid purchasing the products of the copyright lobby, please do so. I realize some people just can’t, and that’s fine. But the only way we will be able to speak the language of the large corporations is by hitting them in the pocketbook.

Update 2011-12-05: The above-linked post may bring up a “403 Forbidden” server error due to a misconfiguration on the destination server. If this happens, please copy and paste the link target into a new tab and it should load.

Update 2021-07-22: Replaced dead link with archive.org link.

3 thoughts on “The slippery slope of censorship: the copyright lobby and child porn”

  1. Feel free to censor child porn!! But most politicians lie and even download themselves. Seriously dude, get the real criminals off the streets and leave the rest of us alone. P2p will never die!!

  2. I surely AM disgusted by reading your vapid defense of child porn. This is fear mongering, plain and simple. We have already gone down the slippery slope, and it is child pornography, among many other heinous crimes committed via the internet. The rape of children is far worse than “censorship of otherwise legitimate speech because of suspected copyright infringement.” Nothing is worse than rape and murder, yet you would have us believe otherwise? We could be logging all IP addresses and actually STOPPING the worst crimes imaginable, but you would gladly see people suffer for your pathetic and worthless ideology. Using antiquated ideals from the 1700s and applying it to the internet in 2011 is just moronic. I have a feeling THIS will be censored however, because as is clear, the liberals own the internet and censor as they please. Try to find a website that supports internet censorship with Google and see how difficult it is. The victims pile up, their horror online for all to see, and you neanderthals scream “MOAR!!!”

    1. Which laws do we use to decide what's illegal and has to be censored off the Internet? Let's say your Internet traffic gets routed through Iran, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, etc even though you don't live there. Do we use their (Islamic fundamentalist) laws to decide what you can access over the Internet?

      I abhor child pornography and child abuse. It's filthy and it's disgusting. But so is prior restraint of legitimate Internet traffic on the mere suspicion that it's related to child porn. Or copyright infringement. Or drug trafficking (especially if you live in a country or part of a country that has chosen to legalize certain drugs, such as marijuana).

      While it is easy to twist what I have written into a defense of child porn, rest assured that is emphatically not the case. I wish those who traffic in or enable child porn a swift and decisive prosecution to the fullest extent of the law. I just don't think the rest of us should have to deal with a police state as a result of the few (.01% or so) who deal in child porn.

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